Maybe you don’t want to read this. It’s a little pessimistic)
I suppose it is the right of old men to reminisce. I have been thinking of the world of my childhood. I grew up in a suburb that is now rather elegant, but when I was a child it was almost the end of the train line to downtown. It wasn’t quite rural, but Groucho Marx and his brothers once had a chicken farm there and we did go picking sweet corn in the next town over, which has also become a rather pricey place to live.
Life was as it was always meant to be. We would sit on our front porches on hot summer days, because those days were pre-air conditioning and some of them even pre-TV! At night we would quite literally “watch” the radio. There was one telephone in the front hall. It was black. There was one car in the garage. It was old. In summer, all the kids would rush out of the houses after breakfast and chores, and sometimes morning Mass. We would hike in the forest; play in the street or in the parish parking lot (which we called the playground). We would pick mulberries in summer and apples in the fall. We would skate on the old mill pond in winter, or go canoeing on the creek in summer. There were ball games and camping trips and dances in the school hall.
We were not rich, and no one in our neighborhood was rich. We were seven kids, and most of the people in our neighborhood had families that size. Clothes were patched, and handed down and we ate a lot of hamburger and tuna casserole. Everything except the drugstore was closed on Sunday and after church life was the Sunday funnies and napping on the worn old sofa in the front room and perhaps going outside after a big Sunday dinner to play “ghost tag” in the twilight and maybe even catch lightning bugs.
The war had been over for a decade, but we worried about the godless communists. Life revolved around the parish and things deemed to be the way they were supposed to be. They were the way they had been before the wars and the way they would always be. I had no idea that the civilization that so valued friends, faith and family, had died 30 years before I was born and I was just enjoying a memory, a ghost of a world that may once actually have existed, but was now evaporating like a morning mist.
Europe and her colonies committed suicide in the first and second world wars. The monarchs and the potentates threw it all away out of greed and arrogance. Women lost their unique dignity as mothers and teachers to become industrial wage slaves as their husbands went off to kill and die for the glory of the cause, the nation, and the wars to end all wars. Certainly there were sweat shops cotton mills and rural poverty and the dignity of woman had been assailed, but what was new was that the masculinization of the world was now a virtuous thing. The enslavement of women by the industrial revolution was made virtuous by war. After all, everyone had to do their part for the war effort, and mother dearest became Rosie the Riveter. The violence of a century of war made the domestic virtues of peace seem obsolete.
Masculinity was in. Femininity was out. Women are and always have been the mainstays of culture. The authors, the scientists, the explorers may have been men, but the creators of stability have always been women. What good is a civilization to the homeless? When there are no women, there is no civilization. There has never been a feminist movement. There has been a masculinist movement. The things men do are important. Doctors, lawyer soldiers, these are important. A wife and mother? What good is that? So it is war that has killed western womanhood, and thus killed civilization. Where there are no women there is no future. Only a woman can give life. We are facing perhaps the greatest crisis in the history of humanity. For the first time in human history the population is beginning to shrink, not because of war or natural disaster, but because of a failure of motherhood.
Beginning around 2050, it is quite possible that the population of the world will begin to shrink, and to do so irretrievably. When there are no children there is no economy. Economies are what allow people to do things like eat and live in buildings. Like the pied piper of Hamlin, the lure of wealth and power, the lure of war, and masculine aggression have stolen all the children leaving a dying civilization of old people.
We in the Church are living in as much of a fool’s paradise as I did in the 1950’s. With the death of European civilization, the Church in Europe has also died. She died in the trenches of World War One, when men blamed God for the disaster they had caused. They came back with shaken faith, and now perhaps four percent of Europe and her colonies all told, believe in the Catholic faith in any realistic way. The Church flourishes in Africa and Asia, but not in sad, suicidal Europe and her suicidal children in her former colonies.
We in the European/Colonial Church still fool ourselves by carrying on business as usual. I wonder how long it is before a person who has died realizes he is dead? It seems some ghosts linger for years. I suppose they go to ghost meetings to discuss the situation.